Mayor Vincent Gray was scheduled to meet on Thursday with representatives of the transgender community, marking the first known time that a D.C. mayor has devoted a meeting exclusively to transgender-related issues.
Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, said Gray accepted a request by local transgender activist Jeri Hughes to hold such a meeting to discuss, among other things, ways that the city can boost employment opportunities within the transgender community.
Hughes told the Blade she would ask the mayor to call on the D.C. Department of Employment Services and the city’s Office of Human Rights to curtail what she calls flagrant discrimination by employers against transgender residents seeking entry-level jobs. Hughes said transgender residents have reported such discrimination from private sector employers as well as some D.C. government agencies.
According to Hughes, employers appear to be violating the D.C. Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on gender identity, by denying jobs to transgender people, especially young transgender women, solely on the basis of their gender identity.
“These are girls who are qualified for these entry level jobs at places like McDonald’s and the like,” Hughes said. “They are being turned away and their job applications ignored.”
Hughes said she would ask Gray to arrange for the Department of Employment Services and Office of Human Rights to hire or designate at least one full-time staff member to work on transgender-related employment and transgender-related non-discrimination issues.